To help people understand what our news about our adoption process means, we’ve put together a quick explainer of what the major steps in the process are, along with a rough idea of when we think we’ll complete them. Unfortunately, the adoption process is filled with a lot of uncertainty on timelines, so it’s hard to be exact. These dates are just average projections for what happens for most families; our specific case could happen more quickly or more slowly. We will keep this timeline up to date as we progress through, indicating steps we’ve completed with a green dot on the timeline and a ✔ next to the step’s title.
Adopting kids is expensive; we determined we would need about $50,000 in savings to adopt a child. Because we can be chosen at any time after we apply, and we need to wire the money within two days of being chosen, we felt we couldn’t start the process until we had the money in hand.
Once we have the money to adopt, we need to make some decisions. We need to finalise our choices about what agency we’ll use, we need to figure out our answers to their adoption questionnaire, and we need to do our research to understand what our choices mean.
Now that we’ve chosen to adopt through American Adoptions, we need to fill out paperwork and pay a fee to apply to their program.
We’re now in the “preliminary process”, and need to do all the prep work for adoption. That involves completing a home study, filling out an Adoption Planning Questionnaire, and putting together print, online, and video profiles.
The home study is a legal requirement for adoptive families, and is meant to ensure that children are placed in safe and stable homes. It consists of hiring a social worker to interview us, review some documents, visit our home, and run background checks on us. This should take a couple weeks, reportedly.
The Adoption Planning Questionnaire is a document we give the adoption agency that indicates things like our budget for adoption, the constraints we have for children we’ll adopt, and other open-ended questions about what our expectations and priorities are.
The print, online, and video profiles are to help birth mothers select us as adoptive parents. The agency will not be matching us to a child; they will be presenting us as a potential adoptive family for a birth mother to pick from, but it is ultimately up to the birth mother to decide what family adopts their child. These profiles are our way of telling the birth mothers about ourselves and our family, and letting them get to know us.
We’ve done everything we can, now we just need to wait for a birth mother to select our profiles. There’s no way to know how long this will take; it could happen the day we finish the preliminary process and become an active family, or it could never happen (though it gets more likely the longer we wait). We have been led to expect this to take anywhere from one to nine months.
Once chosen by a birth mother, we’re waiting out the pregnancy with them. We’ll need to be ready to fly out to wherever the baby is being born, and will need to arrange to stay there while waiting for the adoption to finalise. We could be chosen by a mother that is in the hospital who just had their baby and decided to give it up for adoption, or we could be chosen by a newly-pregnant mother. We’ve been led to expect this shouldn’t last longer than twelve months after we start waiting to be chosen.
Once the baby is born, we need to legally adopt it before we can do much else. Unless we’re matched with a birth mother from Washington State, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children applies, which is a fancy legal thing that basically says a judge in our state and a judge in the state the child was born in both need to sign off on the adoption before it’s final. Before the adoption is final, we must stay in the state the baby was born in. This can take as long as a few weeks, depending on the state and the courts, so we’ll likely be camping out in a hotel or AirBnB for a few weeks after the child is born.